Pushing the boundaries

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a  beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”
Barbara Sher

Difficult as it has been, since my Heart Attack I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am not immortal, and I’m far from super human.  I have become much more aware of my limitations and more willing to admit to myself and others that there are some things I can’t do (or can’t do yet).  As a result, I have started to be more open to, and take enjoyment from, trying new things.

Some might view this as me enjoying the comedy factor that being a beginner often provides.  Perhaps there’s a degree of truth in this, but I think there are two other factors that are more important:

  1. Doing new things adds variety and interest to my life.  As I tend to become a little obsessive about things, why not become obsessive about doing new things, and expanding my horizons, rather than focusing on only one activity and narrowing my focus?
  2. I’m really looking forward to developing my capabilities, progressing to an “intermediate” level, and exploring the opportunities this might bring.

So, as the days shorten and the winter weather starts to kick in, I’ve looked to try different types of exercise that are suitable the dark, cold days.  This has required me to dig deep, to admit I’m a beginner to a bunch of strangers, and to begin…

I have already added swimming to my fitness regime, and I’ve been  practicing my Free-style breathing for a few weeks, but I am still very much a beginner.  The combination of  my “agricultural” technique, my general fitness level and coming to terms with not being able to breathe when I want to, means I need to briefly rest after each 25 metre length.

untitled (51)Friday saw me setting my alarm extra-early and heading to the local swimming pool for a pre-work swim.  This meant swimming in a lane for the first time… with other people.  Four other people, in fact.

I was comfortable with the principle of swimming in a lane, but uncomfortable with the finer details;  Was there some etiquette that cannot be communicated via the arrows on a small, white board?  Was it OK to rest?  (I’d be in real trouble if it wasn’t).  I guess the nightmare scenario would have been if I had come into contact with another swimmer!!!  Surely “touching” is not acceptable, particularly given the general lack of clothing.

As it turned out, I needn’t have been worried.  Everything was very civilised.  We all pretended each other didn’t exist, of course, but the swim went off without incident.  In all, I managed 800m in total, 32 times 25m lengths.  Of course, I’ll try to build my stamina over time.  I might even try for my 50m badge in my next visit to the pool!

***

My regular cycling companion has been under the weather this week, so rather than setting out for our weekly Saturday Cycle, I headed to our local gym for an RPM Class.  Louise (my Wife) has been encouraging me to go to an RPM class pretty much since I started cycling.  Today was my first.

I have to admit, I spent most of the class wondering whether Louise is aware of what I have been through, and what rehabilitation from a Heart Attack entails!  I found the session “intense”.

I hit my maximum Heart Rate after about 5 minutes, and struggled to bring it down  throughout… and I sweated… profusely!!!  And that was without standing up to cycle.  By the end of the session, the pool of sweat beneath my station was substantial.  There was little evidence of similar levels of effort from other participants despite the fact that they all worked a lot harder than I could!

There were a number of contributory factors to me finding the session tough.  Not least that, although I’m getting fitter, I still have a way to go.  The fact that I didn’t know the routine meant that I wasn’t able to effectively moderate my effort to increase / decrease on demand (I hit “Maximum” about three notches on the dial too early!).  Apparently this will all come with practice.

My big take-away for the next session is that I should take a towel with me!!!

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